tv The Rachel Maddow Show MSNBC March 7, 2013 9:00pm-10:00pm PST
but it also i think shows a very interesting side of politics in washington and shows you many things you that don't know and some things that obviously aren't true. >> but why do you think people are connecting with this? >> it's a great -- it's such a great story, and the characters are so interesting. and the characters are all so well rounded and the way they interact with one another, there's just so many great things about this show. the writing and the cinematographer and fincher and spacey. you have all these amazing elements. and to a television show you can watch whenever you want. >> it's pretty intense, isn't it? >> it's very intense. >> did you like that part of it? >> i did. i very much enjoyed it. >> do you think it's real? do you think it really parallels life in washington? >> you know, i think to a certain extent some things do. the way they're portrayed on the show. and i think that in any business, in my business, in your business, you know, and politics, people will do a favor for someone and those favors are quite often reciprocated. not that they absolutely have to
be. but i think that favors are done. and it kind of does show a lot of that, which is pretty interesting. >> what did you want to accomplish on camera? on screen. what did you want to do? >> i wanted to do what bo, the writer, had said to me in the beginning. he said, "i want everyone to at the end of season 1 say who is this guy? what is this guy about question, he said. so that's what i really wanted to sort of achieve. and obviously dot best job i -- >> looking forward to season 2? >> i cannot wait to start. >> already the script? you visited the writers? >> no, i visited the writer's room. beau said -- i said i want to come by. he said you can't look at the white boards, which are all over the whole room. i said okay, i promise. and i got there, and they were all covered with black felt. and i said -- you didn't trust me? >> this is a heck of a commitment. $100 million by netflix. >> yeah. >> it's pretty amazing. well, congratulations. it's got to be careerwise, to be on something new and different and be so big, it's got to be pretty cool. >> it sure is.
>> michael kelly, nice to meet you. good to have you on "the ed show." thanks so much. that is "the ed show." i'm eds schultz. the "rachel maddow show" starts right now. good evening, rachel. >> i know that is the actor who plays stamper and not doug stamper himself, but just seeing him there, a cold chill down my spine. he's such a scary character and such a good show. >> he is. thanks, ed. appreciate it, man. and thanks to you at home for sticking with us this hour. on another news day in which it kind of doesn't really seem possible that all much this news is breaking in one 24-hour cycle. but it is. today president obama's nominee to run the cia john brennan was confirmed by the senate. that came after a 13-hour old school stand-up filibuster of that nomination ended after midnight. republicans attacking each other over that tactic today, accusing each other of a lack of seriousness on national security. meanwhile, an actual honest to god senior al qaeda suspect has been captured abroad and delivered to new york city to
face trial. he's going to be arraigned tomorrow morning. and the democrats' top senator on armed services announces that he will retire. plus gun legislation moves forward in congress for the first time since newtown. a lot is going on right now in the news. but we're going to start the show tonight with the newest addition to msnbc. tonight we get the first primetime interview since he signed up to be a person who goes on tv with the architect of president obama's two national election victories. he was a senior adviser to barack obama before you had ever even heard of barack obama. and he arrives here now free to talk having left the administration behind at a time when he really is the guy you want to talk to. in part because so much is in flux in the stuff that he knows so much about. the president today and last night is now going around the leadership of the republican party to eat with non-senior republican senators and members of congress. the president hosted paul ryan today for lunch. he hosted 12 republican senators last night for dinner at a washington hotel. furthermore, the republicans' biggest publicity stunt in months was also pulled off
yesterday without the knowledge of the party's leadership. senator rand paul essentially snuck onto the senate floor to start his epic filibuster yesterday without telling anyone who was in charge. that was followed today by the old guard of the republican party on national security issues denouncing rand paul for doing that filibuster. even as 14 other republican senators took to the floor last night to help him out. meanwhile, on the democratic side, the republicans' chaos and infighting and backfighting their own leadership is not necessarily redounding to the democrats' advantage. at least not yet. look at this. this is right after the election. you see the date there, 11-25? this is right after the 2012 election, in which democrats of course did way better than expected in the white house and in the congress and in the senate. right after the election this came out, listing the top priorities for the democrats in the u.s. senate. one of the highest immediate priorities for democrats is to
persuade these veteran democratic senators ton retire. senator tim jones, ray rockefeller, frank lautenberg, tom harkin and carl levin. the first priority is these guys can't retire. well, today carl levin announced that he is going to retire. and of course we have learned that tom harkin is going to retire too and of course frank lautenberg is going to retire too and of course jay rockefeller is going to retire too. as for tim johnson, who knows? not saying yet. the top priority was to keep those five guys. four of the five are gone. and the last one, who knows? so from this last election, where the democrats did great, we are heading toward our next one in which the field is really tilted against the democrats, maybe even more so than it was before. and the republicans did terrible in the last election. they are in chaos in congress. that is making for a bewildering governing environment right now for the president's second term. but in the middle of all that today we learned that the autopsy, the republican party commission to figure out why they did so badly and what is
wrong with them as a party, that autopsy is done. the group looking at what went wrong in 2012 has finished its work. the republican party chairman announced on conservative talk radio today that the report is ready to be released. >> so when do we see that? when do we get the blueprint? >> well, we're going to have some -- we're going to have some details on this issue coming out around march 18th. >> on march 18th, in fact, the republican party has booked the national press club to release its self-diagnosis of why they think they just lost so badly. but on talk radio today the republican party chairman, reince priebus, gave this preview of what the party found when they looked at their problems, what the party thinks their big problem was and how they plan to fix it. listen. >> you're going to see the skeleton of this plan start to roll out in the next few weeks. and if you look real hard you'll see that i've made comments and
it's similar to what i just told you on this issue in the press over the last couple weeks and that controlling the debate process, everything involved in moderators and networks and all of these other issues so that we don't have chaos. i mean, we just can't have msnbc, you know, hosting a debate at the reagan library only to have their network comment -- make the commentary afterwards for three hours about the debate of the republican party. i mean, it's ridiculous. >> do you think they know that msnbc would talk about what happened at a republican debate even if it happened on another network? we were the reason you guys lost? we're what needs to be fixed in the republican party? seriously? i find this to be excellent news. joining us now is david axelrod, former senior adviser for president obama, now an nbc and msnbc senior political
strategist. this is his first primetime interview since making that leap. mr. axelrod is also the director of the university of chicago's institute of politics. david, thank you for being here. >> great to be here. i'm a little exhausted listening to your lead-in. that was a truncated version there. but a lot happening here. a lot happening. >> the standard 17 minutes. i do feel like we've got -- we've got a lot of interesting stuff going on on the republican side. as there has been for a long time. i still feel like the republican party doesn't know who it is post bush and cheney. but there are a lot of moving parts. i want to ask you first about what you think about their self-diagnosis about what happened in 2012. you were there. >> i was there. and i -- we were chatting before. at my institute in chicago tonight jon huntsman i think said it best. he said it was a failure of strategy and vision, not tactics. tactics are secondary. i mean, it's interesting to here
chairman priebus posit what he did there because my recollection is the most damaging -- one of the most damaging exchanges in all those debates came on a fox debate when they all said they wouldn't accept one dollar of new revenue even if it entailed -- brought with it $10 of cuts. the problem wasn't the format. it wasn't the venue. it wasn't the commentary after the debates. it's what the candidates said in the debates. and they were responding to the most strident voices in the party, who were in control of that party. so they talked about self-deportation, and they talked about this revenue issue in the way that they did. they talked about ending planned parenthood. they talked about their unified opposition to gay marriage. and they drove away large numbers of americans from their -- from their party. that is what their problem is. their problem is more fundamental than simply the commentary after their debates. it's what happened during the debates. >> i'd like to think that they could fix that too by not having msnbc or even nbc host a debate. but everybody would still weigh in. >> the truth is if you talk to them privately what they want is no debates.
they don't want any primary debates. because what happened to mitt romney is he had to pass through this toll booth, this right-wing toll booth in order to get the nomination and he made a calculation that it was worth doing because barack obama in his view was so vulnerable that just getting the nomination by any means necessary was enough. and what he found was when he got out of that toll booth he had largely disqualified himself. he lost latinos by massive numbers. big gender gap. young voters again voting heavily against the -- by the way, on the issue of self-deportation and the sort of nativist tone of the party's rhetoric, they lost asian americans by vast numbers in this election. i think that's one of the reasons why. so their answer is let's not talk about that stuff, let's try and bypass that. and they'd love to have no debates if they could. >> the other thing that's going on on that subject, on stridency and having to go through the sort of ideological toll booth. since it is an odd-numbered year now we keep getting told the republicans are going to
moderate on these positions, they're going to moderate on gay rights, they're going to moderate on immigration, they're going to start dialing back some stuff that was so alienating during the general election. and we're seeing all sorts of ex-elected officials do that and all sorts of talking heads and columnists and things do that, but elected republicans are not shifting on that subject even in an odd-numbered year. what's holding them back? >> because many of them run in venues that are homogenous in terms of the party participation and the only thing they ever fear -- they never face a general election. the only thing they fear are primaries. and those primaries tend to be dominated by the most strident voices in their party. so even, for example, on an issue like gun control and background checks, which has a 92% approval rating among americans, there's some doubt as to whether that will pass in congress because many of these members are concerned about what will happen in primaries in their districts and what the nra will do within those -- >> in terms of a governing environment, then, just take the issue of background checks, how do democrats then reasonably
strategize if they need to get republicans to move and they appreciate why republicans cant? how do they move forward? >> no, no, i think this is a big challenge. i think the big challenge for the republican party is they have this tension between the needs of their congressional majority in the house and the -- and their desire to become a national party. they can never become a national party unless they moderate some of these positions. so ultimately they're going to have to have a discussion amongst themselves. but it was interesting the other day when governor bush, jeb bush, someone who i think -- i was looking to and i've always seen take slightly different positions -- he did on revenue, for example. he said sure, i'd take that money. but on the issue of immigration, which was a signature issue for him, he just wrote a book, and he changed his position and said no, no citizenship for
undocumented workers. and i think that was a recognition that this is going to be a hard thing -- that this environment is going to be hard to change within the republican party. >> i think it's telling that he makes that switch at the same time he floats he may want to run in 2016. david axelrod, do you mind staying a moment? >> happy to stay. >> something came up in the news today that i actually don't know the politics of it and i want to use you as a crystal ball. >> let's do it. >> david axelrod with us when we come back. hold on. [ female announcer ] research suggests cell health plays a key role throughout our lives. one a day women's 50+ is a complete multivitamin designed for women's health concerns as we age. it has 7 antioxidants to support cell health. one a day 50+.
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nbc, msnbc senior political strategist. director of the university of chicago's institute of politics. and of course he's a former senior adviser for president obama. david, once again, thank you for being here. >> great to be here. >> guantanamo's still open. the president wanted to close guantanamo but congress would not let him. still, though, since he has been president nobody has been sent to guantanamo. terrorism suspects have been killed by drones. a lot of them are killed in combat. a lot of them have been arrested by other countries. but today was only the second time in the whole obama presidency that we got word that a dude got captured. it was one guy in 2011 and there's one guy today and that's been it. the guy today is a terrorism suspect, in this case an al qaeda spokesman whose ties to bin laden include marrying a bin laden daughter. picked up in jordan. now apparently he's in jail a few blocks from here downtown. he's been criminally charged. he's going to be seeing a judge tomorrow morning.
how is it possible that this has only happened twice in four years? no captures abroad. >> well, there have been captures on the battlefield but not captures of terrorists in this way because most of them are not crossing the border into turkey as this -- as this man was. that's where he was captured. most of them are hiding in the most remote areas of places like yemen and somalia and pakistan. and they're very hard to reach. i think the preference would always be to capture these high-value terrorist suspects because they have information that's useful in thwarting operations. but it's very, very difficult to reach them. >> you can see the balance change. you see the huge increase in drone strikes killing people and the huge decrease in people being captured abroad. are they related? did we in fact go through a policy shift that we didn't really debate that was to kill rather than capture? i know capturing seems like a better idea, but we really have
done none of it. >> well, look, i'm -- i think that the -- one of the reasons why there's been less of it is because these leaders are on the run. these terrorists are on the run, and they're going to place that's are remote enough that they're hard to find and they're plotting from those locations. and that's the nature -- that's the down side or the upside of the success that we've had in thwarting some of that. by you know, it's a challenging part of the world. and so sometimes reaching them by drone is more -- is the only way to reach them. >> in terms of this guy now being -- he's in jail in new york tonight. the other guy that was captured in 2011 also in jail in new york tonight. his trial hasn't started yet. the whole original idea, part of
the critique of the bush administration when president obama was elected, was that everybody should go on trial. even khalid shaikh mohammed should go on trial. >> right. >> those plans were thwarted by congress freaking out about it. mostly republicans but some democrats too. are we past that now? are we past like the cheney era in republican politics looking at this filibuster yesterday -- >> well, let me say this. if people are serious about bringing these people -- these terrorists to justice, we should be because article 3 courts, civilian courts are the most effective way to bring them to trial and to bring them to justice and to do it swiftly. that's what happened with the times square bomber here, the underwear bomber in detroit. i think there have been 67 successful prosecutions since 9/11 in the civilian courts. only seven in military tribunals. so if your interest is in bringing the terrorists to justice, this is the most efficiency way to do it. >> it was thwarted before, though, by congress freaking
out. >> it was. >> including some democrats in congress freaking out. do you think we are past that? >> well, i hope so. i think there were specific -- there were specific elements around the khalid shaikh mohammed issue that lent itself to that. there hasn't been, so far as i know, a lot of squawking about the two that you mentioned now. so one hopes that we're past that and there is a recognition that you know, this is a really -- this is really a good way to go if we're going to bring these guys to justice and do it in an expeditious way. >> we know how to prosecute terrorists. >> we do. that's never been in question. there are hundreds of terrorists in american prisons who were prosecuted in article 3 courts, civilian courts. i have great confidence in our justice system. i donate know why those folks don't. >> it will be fascinating to see how republicans feel about this new guy, the ones who objected to khalid shaikh mohammed being tried. david axelrod, we are lucky to have you. >> thank you. >> i hope you enjoy your time here and it's only occasionally
uncomfortable. >> that's fair enough. >> all right. >> that's fair enough. all right. when a space capsule re-enters the earth's atmosphere, temperatures get so incredibly hot that if the capsule did not have a heat shield it would incinerate. same principle also works in political accountability. that's coming up. irl, every food is finger food. so i can't afford to have germy surfaces. but after one day's use, dishcloths can redeposit millions of germs. so ditch your dishcloth and switch to a fresh sheet of new bounty duratowel. look! a fresh sheet of bounty duratowel leaves this surface cleaner than a germy dishcloth, as this black light reveals. it's durable, cloth-like and it's 3 times cleaner. so ditch your dishcloth and switch to new bounty duratowel. the durable, cloth-like picker-upper. her long day of pick ups and drop offs begins with arthritis pain... and a choice. take up to 6 tylenol in a day or just 2 aleve for all day relief. all aboard.
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limits to filibustering and i'm going to have to go take care of one of those in a few minutes here. >> yesterday, thanks to the call of nature, one of the longest talking marathon okays in senate history ended in 12 hours and 52 minutes. it got senator rand paul lots of attention yesterday and today. it drew further attention to the issue that senator paul spoke about for those 13 hours. that filibuster was a very high-profile thing. and at the same time as that filibuster, another one was launched by senate republicans. but that one did not end when someone had to pee. it did not draw attention to its issue. it did not draw attention to who was doing it. it did not get anyone on tv. it just quietly worked with no noise, no showboating and thereby an industry that likes to stay in the shadows got its way with nobody noticing. a "rachel maddow show" special report on that is coming up. i'm the world's worst cleaning lady.
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that attract and lock up to two times more dust than a feather duster. swiffer gives cleaning a whole new meaning. and now swiffer dusters refills are available with the fresh scent of gain. today because members of both parties worked together we were able to renew that commitment. reauthorizing the violence against women act is something i called for in my state of the
union address. and when i see how quick it got done, i'm -- i'm feeling -- [ cheers and applause ] it makes me feel optimistic. >> they said it couldn't be done! today president obama signed into law the reauthorization of the violence against women act. finally. it took a long time, but it finally got done. and it got done in the end mostly because republican leaders in the house decided to get out of the way. look, when it passed in the house, it got more democratic votes than republican votes. that is usually not how it works. usually the party in control in the house won't allow something to come up for a vote unless their own side is for it. but in this case republican leaders in the house decided to get out of the way. they folded. and as a result we got a rare signing ceremony today in washington. i almost feel like i will jinx it if i point it out, but things are actually sort of starting to
happen in washington. and they are happening, i think, to the extent that things can get done around the republican leadership in washington. look at this. this very short piece of tape. but watch carefully. >> that is him. >> that was him. >> it was? >> yeah. >> was that him? yeah, it was. really? was that him? yeah. him. the him in this case would be paul ryan. who was invited to the white house today to talk about the budget. now, typically, it would be the house speaker, john boehner, who'd be going to the white house to talk with the president. but today, no. they went around the republican leadership and just talked to the guy who's not in the leadership but who's working on the budget. similarly, last night president obama hosted a dinner with 12 republican senators. importantly, none of the 12 were members of the senate republican leadership. and here's why that matters. "as for obama's dinner last night, it went very well, according to various nbc
conversations with the gop participants. in fact, one senator told us that he learns for the first time the actual cuts that the president had put on the table. leadership had not shared that list with them before." huh? republican leaders didn't share that information with some of their members? we've just gone through three months or so of hand-to-hand political combat on spending cuts, and republican leaders in the senate apparently never told their members what president obama was putting on the table. this kind of seems like a big deal, right? and does not seem to be an isolated incident. one whippersnapper reporter who has been documenting this phenomenon at work in washington is our own ezra klein. he's also a columnist for "washington post" and the bloomberg news. ezra, it's great to have you here. thank you. >> good evening, rachel. >> so president obama offered something in negotiations. republican leadership did not tell the rest of republicans in congress that that was true. they apparently don't have google so they can't find out for themselves. he only learn about it after president obama stops talking to the leadership and took a senator guy out to dinner
directly to tell him to his face. have you seen this dynamic at work even before last night? >> i would like to tell you i have not. i have seen it a lot. i was in a briefing with a very senior republican member of congress about a week and a half ago, and it was a background briefing so, i can't say who. but this was a genuinely good guy, very informed guy, one of the guys who knows this issue very well. and there was a bunch of reporters in the room. and somebody said to him, would it matter if president obama put chained cpi, which is a way of cutting social security benefits, on the table? and the member of congress said absolutely, that would be a huge deal. and one of the other reporters said, but he did. it's right there in his budget. and the congressman said, well, who did? and the reporter said, the president. and the guy said, well, i'd like to see that. and it's literally, this is not one of those issues, chain cpi where you need to rely on the reporting out of the secret negotiations with john boehner. it's on the website. if you just look at the
sequester plan, it is literally in bold letters. a couple of days later i was talking with mike murphy who's a fairly moderate republican strategist on twitter and he too was saying obama needs to put chained cpi on the table and we said, well, he did. and he said well, that was a gimmick, he wanted revenues in return for it. this happens a lot. the lines of communication to folks who are not in the republican party leadership are much weaker than one would expect. part of that is on the white house for not having a great congressional outreach operation. part of it is of course on members of congress, who should probably be going and reading plans on the website. but whoever you blame, people do not have the information they should frankly have in this town. >> well, what's the motivation of the republican leadership to not tell its members what the white house is actually doing? i mean, it is disappointing that members of congress don't believe things that are publicly known unless they've been delivered to them personally by john boehner. but why would john boehner and mitch mcconnell not actually tell their members what's really been offered? >> well, i could actually see this being a reasonable thing, right?
so it's typically considered a bad thing to leak the other side's proposals. now, it happens quite a bit. it's something that i rely on quite heavily. but it would be a bad thing if the day after the negotiations with the white house john boehner sort of put out an all representatives e-mail and sent out everything the white house has done in paper to everybody sort of on the e-mail that would leak in a minute, and then it would seriously degrade any trust between the two sides going forward. now, if the senator had gone up to mitch mcconnell or boehner and said, what was actually on the table there? my hunch is they probably would have gotten a fairly good idea. also, the reporting of this stuff has been fairly clear. and finally, again, president obama, unlike at this moment the house republican or senate republican leadership, does have a fairly detailed -- not incredibly detailed but fairly detailed proposal on the website that specifically delineates what he wants to cut and how he wants to raise taxes. you can just go -- these folks can just go read it. there's no reason it should be a mystery if you want to know about it. that doesn't mean the white house shouldn't be trying to get that information to people.
but this stuff doesn't have to be secret if you don't want to be secret. >> especially if one of the things you that control as a member of congress is a staff who's supposed to read stuff for you. just amazing. ezra klein, columnist for the "washington post" and bloomberg news and of course our msnbc policy analyst. ezra, thank you very much for being here tonight. >> thank you. >> republican leadership, i will say, has let go a little bit in the house and they're just being circumnavigated around in the senate. if republican leadership is sort of out of the way, i think we may see some stuff move. all right. we'll be right back. fective pai. tylenol works by blocking pain signals to your brain. bayer advanced aspirin blocks pain at the site. try the power of bayer advanced aspirin.
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these are the four precious words that every 10-year-old staying up too late longs to hear. "viewer discretion is advised." in this specific case what your parents were advised to not let you see, even though they could not help staring at it themselves, was this guy. morton downey jr. talk show host. for a few years in the late 1980s morton downey jr. was the king of the syndicated talk show world. the morton downey jr. show came barreling out of new york every friday night and barreling straight for the national id. morton downey jr. was the king of shock before america knew it wanted one of those. and he got just other-worldly guests. he got joey ramone, not sedated. he got kiss guitarist ace frehley without all the kiss
makeup on. he got professional wrestlers, real ones, fighting over race and workers' rights in debates that i for one believe were just as real as their fighting in the ring. morton downey jr. even got jerry falwell, so you could watch on tv live the shock jock and the televangelist trying to outdo each other. like a snake eating its tail. viewer discretion is advised. sometimes, like when he needed to physically grab a wrestler for effect, morton downey jr. would walk around his set empty-handed. but that was an exception because most of the time in his studio he carried a lit cigarette. almost all the time. smoking for him was almost existential. it was a fundamental, elemental part of him. to be morton downey jr. was to stalk around on television with a cigarette. tapping the ash, staring down guests while the smoke drifted up past his ears. morton downey jr. smoked his way through one conversation with
ron paul back when ron paul was first running for president as a libertarian. in that interview, as in so many interviews, morton downey jr. decided to yank ron paul's chain. because the conversation was about the war on drugs. downey called ron paul "the man who could be snorting cocaine in the oval office." and that was just the opening. let's join the program in progress. viewer discretion is advised. >> you're giving libertarians a distorted explanation. >> no, sir. you people gave it to yourself in your platform. >> no, let me explain that. the answer is that we are allowed to do what we want. we even permit people to smoke cigarettes. that happens to be the most deadly drug in the united states. kills 320,000 people -- >> i appreciate it. i wish you'd ban it. if you would, sir, i'd put it out in your eye right now. >> i wish you would ban my cigarette so i could put it out in your eye right now. that was kind of the mort okay downey jr. shtick. in the early 1990s mr. downey became a board member and
spokesman for something called the national smokers alliance. it was not that big a leap, right? fronting for the national smokers alliance. since morton downey jr. was himself all but a synonym for smoking. but then morton downey jr. got sick. >> morton downey jr., former talk show host and lung cancer survivor, joins us this morning. good morning, morton. >> good morning. >> how are you doing? >> i'm fine, thanks. >> it's great to see you and in such good health. >> i've got to tell you, you look a lot better than wally. >> thanks, morton. i hope he's not watching. so tell me, how are you feeling? >> i feel like a million bucks, thank god. yeah. i feel great. it's almost a year since i had -- >> has it been a year? >> -- my two lungs, my two lobes on the right side excised, removed, gotten rid of. and i'm hanging in there pretty good. >> it must have been such an ordeal. how did that change your life? >> you know, it changed it for the better. a, i don't smoke anymore. which i was a four to five-pack a day smoker. >> morton downey jr. eventually died of lung cancer. but not before he repented
publicly for the smoking habit he used to glorify. for the smoking industry he used to represent. when a man named c. everett koop died last week, if you've heard anything at all about his death and his legacy, you probably heard about his real heroism on the issue of smoking. dr. koop was appointed surgeon general by president ronald reagan and i think much to everyone's surprise once he was in that position he used that position to wage a war on smoking. he did a lot of other good besides. but at a time when the public was still arguing about whether smoking really was even all that bad for you, whether it was even worth warning people that smoking might be an unhealthful thing, c. everett koop, surgeon general, oftentimes in his full dress uniform, c. everett koop was unassailable. he was blunt as all get out, totally unequivocal in saying conclusively, yeah, smoking is bad for you. from his "new york times" obituary, "dr. koop said he had begun campaigning against smoking after studying the research into its link to cancer, heart disease, stroke and other diseases. he was dumfounded, he said, and then plainly furious at the tobacco industry for attempting to obfuscate and trivialize this
extraordinarily important public information." surgeon general c. everett koop changed the national understanding and the national conversation about tobacco. once he punctured the tobacco companies' disinformation and denial on smoking being so bad for you, that put the focus on those companies for having hidden that information, for having covered up the fact that if you use their product as directed it will hurt you. they knew that. and they kept that information from their customers. now, facing that turn in the conversation, the companies tried to protect themselves. they tried to protect themselves by in effect creating a heat shield for themself, themselves. a fake populist heat shield that was called the national smokers alliance. the idea was to keep the industry itself out of the news and out of the discussion, so it didn't just seem like a fight between one side that cared about your health and another side that wanted to make as much money as it could off of the process of killing you.
so it wouldn't seem like it was the industry itself fighting the regulation of smoking and tobacco. the companies bankrolled this heat shield. they bankrolled this morton downey jr. thing, this national smokers alliance. you can see the fine print there, right? funded by brown & williamson cigarette sales. the national smokers alliance made sure that whenever a town someplace thought about restricting smoking in restaurants and bars, officials in that town would suddenly get flooded with protest postcards, stop the ban in houston, or stop the ban in portland, maine or stop the ban in monongahela county west virginia. they all got the same cards, mass produced for any place and every place overnight. clearly trying to look local trying to look grassrootsy and not something mass produced by the tobacco industry, which of course they were. the national smokers alliance printed up these coasters that magically appeared in your corner bar so when you were there drinking your beer you could rest your beer on their tobacco industry message. "you are being targeted.
the prohibitionists want to prevent you from smoking here." if that was too scary maybe you'd choose to set your beer on this cute coaster instead, "resist prohibition." on the so-called newsletter from the national smokers alliance. it's called the resistance. the next year the newsletter featured the launch of "feet on the street," a nationwide grassroots effort designed to recruit new members. grassroots, yeah, right. the local papers would soon report this supposedly grassroots effort with came with a bounty of 75 cents a head. the tobacco industry would pay to sign people up for their fake front organization that was supposed to look like a popular uprising of smokers getting together to defend their rights. the heat shield was phony. it was obviously phony. it was dreamed up by the pr firm burson marsteller. it was not a big grassroots thing. big tobacco tried to use it but they were not good at it. maybe it would have gone better if their spokespeople had not trotted out the exact same sound bites everywhere they wanted to
stop smoking bans. lines like "accommodation and common courtesy can solve this problem." when you say that awkward and weird thing in all sorts of places all over the country it's clear to everybody you're not a local effort, you're reading from some mass produced script. what big tobacco was up to was transparent almost from the start. they weren't good at that time it. they did not get their money's worth from burson marsteller. accord together l.a. times, "behind it is a public relations campaign much of orchestrated which a tobacco-backed group based in virginia called the smokers alliance. assisting that group is one world's largest pr firms, burson marsteller." this is how it was being reported at the time they thought they were duping everybody. they were bad at it. they were busted. their fake grassroots were showing. it did not help tobacco that reputable officials like c. everett koop were being so relentlessly credible on the subject even in the face of opposition from, say, tobacco state senators. it did not help them that morton
downey jr. smoked his way to lung cancer and then publicly repented about it. but they also did not do a good enough job with this fake populist heat shield strategy of theirs, and it failed. and this is how you can tell it failed. pursuant to being hounded in the courts, to being sued for selling a product that when used as directed can kill you, the chief executives of the nation's tobacco companies got hauled into congress to get asked the miserable questions they had sought for so long to avoid. the industry wanted to stay out of the debate. they paid to invent a whole fake smokers rights group to debate in public so they wouldn't have to. but it didn't work. they couldn't get away from the lawsuits. so they couldn't get away from congress. so they couldn't get away from the public. they could not hide. welcome to the spotlight of accountability. it's hot, isn't it? things went so bad for tobacco the industry ultimately got forced into a
multibillion-dollar settlement that required them to pay for ads against their own products. like this one showing piles of body bags outside a tobacco company. or this one where a real marlboro man comes riding into new york city and he's not looking so hot. ♪ if you don't know we die from tobacco ♪ ♪ sometimes you just lose a lung ♪ ♪ oh, you don't always die from tobacco ♪ ♪ sometimes they just snip out your tongue ♪ ♪ and you ♪ because you don't always die from tobacco ♪ >> the tobacco industry's heat shield did not work. do you want to see what it looks like when it does work? that's next. [ sniffs ]
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excuse me. do you know how many people tobacco kills every day? >> you know what, we are going to leave this here for you so you can see what 1200 people actually look like. >> that add was paid for however reluctantly by the tobacco industry. the famous add was part of the legal settlement that tobacco companies paid out from harm done over those product. they tried and failed to stay out of the debate over those products. they made up a fake group with talk show host morton downey jr., junior a talk show host. their heat shield failed to shield them.
and they were forced to change. so it didn't work for them. trying that at a strategy makes some sense. if your profits depend on the continued and increased sales of something that kills americans, the strategy of having someone else stand up for you is not dumb. that can work and here is what it looks like when it works. >> wayne lapierre of the national rifle association testifying after the shootings at sandy hook massacre. it is the same strategy, it is the same tactic. the modern national rifle association is a tool to take the heat so that the companies themselves don't have to. consider the names like berretta
and winchester and on and on. the nra represents itself as a grassroots group standing up for gun owner's rights. funded by the industry that makes gun owners rights to be argued by somebody other than themselves. they put them up there so that they don't have to be the source of the argument that gun sales don't have to be restricted in anyway. and they are put out there to take all the attention so that the industry doesn't have to. since december 14th, since the shootings at sandy hook elementary school, the industry that makes those guns has been invisible.
but they are out there by design. their strategy is working. it is the same tactic that was used by the tobacco industry then. >> the alliance existed for one purpose, to defend the freedoms of 50 million adult americans who choose to smoke. >> it is on behalf of those millions of descent, hard-working, law-abiding citizens that i'm here to give voice to how it works. we will not be demonized. >> 50 million individual citizens and taxpayers whose relationship with the tobacco industry consists of purchasing a legal product. >> the incursions on their
rights have gone far enough. >> leave the law-abiding people alone. >> the new taxes on cigarettes -- >> we are going to have a regulation on that. >> what they are serious about is banning, taxing and taking what they want. >> we have over a million members. >> we are nearly five million strong. >> one of the comments i hear most commonly is i don't smoke but i think it has gone far enough and i'm very concerned about this trend and i think that smokers have rights. >> the vast majority don't have the right to take that right away. >> what the industry tried and failed is the same thing that the gun industry is doing to us right now. only now the industry is succeeding.
as congress moves forward with what they believe can be done or can be considered, what is on that list? making gun trafficking a federal offense, that passed today in the senate. also, funding schools to up grade the school measures and universal background checks and a ban on some specific military style weapons. that is the agenda right? one of the ways you know that the strategy is working, one of the ways you know that's working is that what is not on congress's rather modest list is how to reform gun laws is anything at all about the companies that sell guns. cigarettes kill people, right? the tobacco companies god got sued and them lying about it. the products got regulated and